Here are a pair of blunt facts that will set an ominous yet deliberate tone for what’s about to come. Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad has more words in its name than the instruction manual has pages. If you think that little tidbit is strange, then try pondering how a playable load screen mini-game is more polished and fun than the actual game it supports.
Onechanbara’s stateside debut on Xbox 360 from Japan has a lot going for it on paper to succeed here. A bikini-clad vixen graces the cover and, as we all know well enough, sex sells like hotcakes on these shores. Antagonize a trio of these scantily clad women with an uncountable number of gaming’s beloved zombie cannon fodder whose blood squirts on the heroines by the gallon and the blueprint for success should have been easy enough to execute into a palatable form.
Instead, Bikini Samurai Squad offers up a numbingly boring hack-and-slash sentence you’ll want to free yourself from within minutes. Zombies are spotted, zombies are killed, paths are retraced, a key is found to access the next poorly designed area, and the cycle repeats itself for several hours.
The hack-and-slash pattern wouldn’t be so fateful to the game’s entertainment value if some semblance of intelligence required to advance existed. There most certainly is not. These types of games are first judged on their ability to involve the player’s intellect by, at the very least during boss fights, requiring specific attacks to beat specific foes. While Bikini Samurai Squad does offer a small selection of unique standard and charged attacks for each of its three combatants featuring swords and impossible to aim guns without sights, it is possible to progress through most if not all of the game by relying on the same button-mashing technique of a single attack move with a sharp pair of blades. The only obstacle to success is measured by how fast you can smash and how quickly you can advance to the next chapter.
Boss fights extend the boredom but also introduce frustration. Earlier bosses are killed swiftly with little to no resistance offered. Later bosses are so formidable yet so stupid that they require seemingly countless mindless strikes to bring down whether whacking them with a sword or shooting them with a gun. After spending several minutes of trying to take one or more out only to die, the last thing tired hands want to do is suffer through the motions again.
An intermission stage featuring riding on a motorcycle to see how many zombies can be run over before you die should have helped stir the pot. That is if the controls weren’t horrific and the back-and-forth up a street driving one of the most pointless gaming endeavors of recent memory. At least the inclusion of having to knock blood off the heroine’s weapon every now and then so it doesn’t get stuck in a zombie exhibits a smidge of uniqueness and creativity.
If you and a friend want to team up and square off against endless waves of zombies you can, if you dare. But don’t expect Dead or Alive-inspired visuals showing off the heroines best assets in high resolutions. The in-game models are borrowed from the late 1980s with bland and stiff designs save for a minimal amount of “bounce.” CGI cut-scene resolutions are so poor it is akin to watching a film through a fogged up shower’s glass door. Which is ironic since the opening CGI sequence takes its time circling one of the girls taking a gratuitous shower.
I looked in the instruction manual to see if there’s anything I missed that might redeem Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Squad. As expected, the scant three pages offer next to nothing of substance much like the game they support. There are goals to meet that can be tracked but who in their right mind would want to suffer through pain and agony to reach them?
Too bad the load screen mini-game isn’t available for download separately. That actually holds some promise with only a fraction of the pixels. Even at a fraction of the retail price there’s not a single reason you should go anywhere near this deeply unimaginative and shallowly designed zombie infestation.
– Dan Bradley